SEATTLE — Women’s economic empowerment benefits not only women and families, but also it is good for businesses and economies.
According to SPRING Accelerator, an organization that is devoted to business solutions to end poverty, consumers at the Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP) represent $5 trillion of untapped market potential. Many of these potential consumers are women who suffer disproportionately from poverty due to employment discrimination, unequal pay and various social norms.
Sevi Simavi, CEO of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, reports that globally women spend significantly more time than men doing domestic and unpaid care work. Women also earn 24 percent less than men and suffer disproportionately from exploitation and dangerous working conditions.
In Ghana, women in cocoa communities earn up to 30 percent less than men. In Ivory Coast cocoa communities, that number shoots up to 70 percent, according to CARE International.
In addition, 40 percent of women in the world remain unbanked, according to The Guardian’s Voice and Agency Research.
If impoverished and disadvantaged women were to be empowered as workers and consumers, the social and economic benefits would be enormous.
In addition to the benefits accrued to families and local communities, women’s economic empowerment would improve local and international businesses through the purchasing of more goods and services.
“Consider that in Kenya 75% of households are rural, 63% use wood as a source of heat, and almost half have to walk more than 15 minutes to get water,” says an article on SPRING Accelerator’s website. “And yet 30% have a TV, 75% have a radio, 30% have a bicycle, and more than 60% have a mobile phone.”
“There’s clearly an appetite among all BoP consumers to save and pay for expensive assets,” the article says. “Girls make up a proportion of these consumers, and our data shows that they are willing to wait, save and make tradeoffs to purchase aspirational products.”
Some governments, businesses and activist organizations are prioritizing the economic empowerment of women in developing countries. CARE International, for example, helps businesses develop collaborative partnerships and alternative finance models in order to be more inclusive and encourage gender equality.
The organization also brings together governments and civil society, facilitating cooperation with the private sector while encouraging behavioral and social changes conducive to equality and economic growth.
By 2030, CARE International hopes to have empowered 30 million more women around the world. As a guideline, it uses the U.N.-approved Social Development Goal of increasing women’s financial independence and protecting sexual and reproductive rights.
Sources: Business Fights Poverty 1, Business Fights Poverty 2, Business Fights Poverty 3,
Photo: World Bank Group